New Listings being SNAPPED UP In Northern Virginia!

This year, new listings in Northern Virginia are being snapped up! 

Home For Sale 402 Orleans Circle Sw Vienna VA 22180

Tomorrow is the last day of February and so far this year, 122 new listings have come on the market in Vienna. Guess how many of those new listings are under contract? 70 of them! They sold in an average of 26 days! And 70% of them sold in a week or less!

What about the rest of Northern Virginia?

Northern VA Home Sales January and February 2013 This is the swiftest moving market we have seen in years and years and years! Keep in mind that the “average days on market” statistic is just that – an average. With 50-70% of the new listings selling in a week or less (often times the same day they come on the market), both Buyers and Sellers need to adapt to the pace by adjusting their strategies. Don’t get caught in the position of making a quick decision you will regret. Our best advice is to make sure that your Realtor has the experience & perspective that comes from doing a LOT of contracts in this type of market. Selling a home with multiple contracts is a good problem to have, but there are many things your Realtor can advise you on that will protect your interests AND make sure you actually get to closing. The same thing is true for Buyers. You may have to move fast to get your dream home, but you don’t want to make costly mistakes. (Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 to discuss strategies for success in today’s market.)

Now, let’s move to our weekly Hyperlocal Market Snapshot for Vienna & Oakton.

Vienna and Oakton are both in Seller’s Markets with 2.0 and 1.5 months of housing supply respectively. Here’s what has happened in the past week:

Last week in Vienna Real Estate (22180,22181, 22182):

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

  • Number of Contracts: 19
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 121 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 67 days
  • Inventory: 113 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 2.3 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 2.0 months

What Is My Vienna Home Worth?

Last week in Oakton Real Estate (22124):

Search Homes For Sale in Oakton

  • Number of Contracts: 13
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 119 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 23 days
  • Inventory: 54 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 2.1 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 1.5 months

What Is My Oakton Home Worth?

Vienna Open Houses – Sunday, Feb 27th

We’ve got two great Vienna Open Houses for you this weekend. One is a new home that’s just about ready to move in. And the other is a brand new listing!

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JUST LISTED! 402 Orleans Circle SW in Vienna – OPEN SUNDAY 2-4PM

Vienna VA Real Estate

Listed at $589,000

This delightful 3 bedroom, 3 full bath ramlber is in sought after Vienna, less than 2 miles from Vienna Metro and on a cul-de-sac. Features include gleaming hardwood floors, a spacious living room, separate family room, dining room off kitchen and a beautifully finished lower level with Italian tile floors, large rec room & office. Madison HS pyramid.

Directions: From Tysons: Route 123 South into Vienna, Left Park St, Right Tapawingo, Left Hillcrest, 3rd right on Orleans Circle to #402 on left.

Call (703) 242-3975 for more info!

Search More Homes For Sale in Vienna

Read about Life In Vienna

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204 Cottage Street SW in Vienna – OPEN SUNDAY 2PM – 4PM

Home For Sale in Vienna on Cottage St

Listed at $1,195,000

Enjoy a new design and excellent quality construction from one of Vienna’s oldest and finest builders, in the heart of “Downtown Vienna”. This delightful elevation includes Hardiplank, stone, and a charming porch feature. First floor guest bedroom/den with full bath. Five bedrooms & four full baths total. Upgraded finishes and quality throughout. Madison HS Pyramid.

Directions:From Vienna Metro:  I-66 to Nutley Street; Right on Tapawingo; Left on Cottage. Or from Tysons: Maple Avenue to Left on Center Street S, Right on Locust Street, Left on Cottage St to #204.

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

Read about Life In Vienna

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(We also have other new listings coming soon in Falls Church and Vienna. Call 703-242-3975 for details!)

Seller Tips: Curb Appeal Matters

When you’re selling your home, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. And most of the time, this “first impression” happens online. Here’s why curb appeal matters:

If your mortgage payment is $4,000/month, and you sell 7 days faster, that means you save $1,000. Isn’t it worth the small investment to make sure your curb appeal is at its best?

Contact The Belt Team to schedule an appointment for a home walkthrough. We’ll give you all sorts of tips to maximize your investment and save you time. After all, time is money!

How Much Is My Home in Northern Virginia Worth?

Call (703) 242-3975 NOW!

Appraisal Issues In A Rising Housing Market

Low Appraisal Northern VA Real Estate

Inventory is down. Prices are coming back up. And as a result, the “ugly appraisal issue” is rearing its head. Sometimes what you get is a roll of the dice!

Most contracts on homes in Northern Virginia contain an appraisal contingency. In other words, the contract is contingent upon the home appraising for a certain value, often the sales price. However, appraisers hired by lenders are held to very specific standards. For example, they must use 3 settled comparables (meaning 3 homes that have sold and gone to closing). They can add a 4th comp that is under contract and even one that is just listed & not sold yet. However, the value is mainly derived from the settled comps.

So when we are in a rising market, as we have been for about a year in our area, appraised values often lag true market values; and we see appraisals coming in low.

Earlier this month, a home in Vienna received 11 contracts. It has not settled, so we are not sure of the final price, but it’s very likely it sold well over list price. If the winning contract contained an appraisal contingency (and it may not due to the competition involved), the appraiser may have a big challenge supporting the value. In this case, when so many people are bidding up a property, it’s unlikely the sold comps will support it. (This is where we see market value not matching appraised value. And the reverse can happen in a declining market.) It will take time for sales to happen that are cash purchases or for buyers with large down payments. Once these happen, appraised values can start rising again.

Market Value Does Not Equal Appraised Value

So what happens? Does this mean your home sale or purchase is automatically derailed?

The short answer is – it might or it might not. (About 18 months ago, The National Association of Realtors reported that one in five contracts was canceled because of “appraisal issues”.)

In one case we had, the appraisal came in over $100,000 below the agreed upon sales price in the contract. Since the contract was contingent upon a satisfactory appraisal, the purchasers had the option of voiding the contract. The Buyers & Sellers tried to come to an agreement to lower the price, but could not reach an accord. And the contract fell apart. The home went back on the market.

What was interesting to note about this case (and very frustrating to all concerned!) is that the appraiser was not familiar with our area. Not only did he live in another state, but he was so unfamiliar with Vienna (where the property was) that he got lost on the way to the home to do the appraisal and had to spend 20 minutes on the phone with our office directing him to the property. (Note that this home is EASY to find and in a sought after, popular area.)

Lost Appraiser

Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence. While many appraisers are professional, full-time, local experts (just like many Realtors are), some are not. And based on various lending requirements and other regulatory legislation, there is very little control able to be exercised by Realtors, Sellers, Buyers and even Lenders on the selection of which appraiser to use.

Another common occurrence in situations like ours is that when the appraiser is not familiar with the area, and has not been in other similar homes in the neighborhood, he/she often relies strictly on tax records and MLS information. And while that information is important, it is sometime lacking in critical detail. For example, the MLS or tax record may leave out an important “detail” like the fact that the home backs to power lines. This “little detail” has HUGE impact on what Buyers are willing to pay and should be adjusted for when doing a valuation of the home. What we see happen sometimes is that a home is undervalued because an appraiser uses a home like the one backing to power lines as a comp (comparable), but does not adjust the value of the subject property (the one he is trying to set a value for) upward since that home does not back to power lines. How could he if he doesn’t know?

We had another situation where the appraisal came in below sales price. In this case, the buyer was making a significant down payment (more than the minimum required by the lender), so the buyer had the option of voiding the contract, re-negotiating the sales price with the Seller or proceeding to settlement despite the low appraisal. The buyer was a local buyer, one who had already been living in the general vicinity of the home and who knew the value of the neighborhood and the “intangibles” that an appraiser may not recognize or be able to adjust for based on lending guidelines. So the Buyer chose to proceed to settlement at the original sales price, despite the low appraisal.

There are all sorts of different scenarios that may play out when an appraisal comes in low. These were just two examples. One conclusion we have made is that the experience of the Realtors on both sides of a transaction has direct influence on what happens (just as the experience of the appraiser affects the outcome). If you are buying or selling a home – a low appraisal is just one of the possible “challenges” you may face. You need a Realtor who can not only fill out forms & “pull comps” for you, but who can discuss re-sale issues you may not have thought of, who can resolve financing issues you may not be aware of and who has vast resources to draw upon.

In another of our low appraisal situations, we had a Buyer and a Seller who both really wanted the sale to go through – despite the low appraisal. The Seller could not afford to lower the price. And the Buyer did not have additional money for a down payment, but felt the value was there, planned to be in the home for the long-term and really wanted the house, even though it appraised for less than sales price. In this case we were representing the Seller. A nice, hard-working, but less experienced agent was representing the Buyer. This agent was not able to help her Buyer find a way to get financing. Since our team has been working in the local market since 1973, we have a vast array of contacts & resources that we can call upon in difficult situations. We were able to connect the Buyer with one of our top lenders. The lender had a special program requiring less down payment and was also able to obtain a more accurate appraisal. And this sale went through. Happy Buyer and Happy Seller.

Happy Person

Each situation is different. Can the appraisal be disputed by the Realtor providing better comps – comps that fit the lender’s requirements? Can a new lender be brought into the picture? Does the Buyer even want to proceed if the appraisal is low? Can a new sales price be negotiated that both parties agree upon? Would a different loan program work? Can the Buyer make a larger down payment so that the lender will proceed with a low appraisal? Is there a relocation company involved and does this affect a buy-back or reimbursement? Would it be better for the Buyer not to proceed? These and many more questions are the types of things your Realtor should walk you through!

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for a more in-depth discussion & analysis We’ll be happy to schedule a consultation and get very detailed about the homebuying or homeselling process so that you can make the decision that is best for YOU! Don’t you deserve the best real estate agents in Northern VA?

Top Eco-Friendly Features Home Buyers Want

Home owners often consult us before they update & upgrade their homes. Sometimes this is because they are thinking of selling their home. And sometimes they just want to make sure they are making a good investment and protecting their home’s resale value for the future. Here’s a quick 1 minute video that will tell you the top eco-friendly features home buyers are looking for in today’s market:

Contact The Belt Team for more home selling or home improving tips!

FREE Home Seller Reports

FREE Home Buyer Reports

Search Homes For Sale in Northern Virginia

Vienna Real Estate: Just Listed in Wendover & Open House on Cottage St

It may be cold outside, but the Vienna real estate market is HOT! We have listed a gorgeous home in sought after Wendover AND we have an open house on Cottage Street on Sunday. Hope to see you there!

But first – our Friday Funday Video!

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JUST LISTED! 2023 Willow Branch Ct in Vienna $1,289,900Vienna VA Luxury Home For Sale

Welcome to sought after Wendover! Vienna’s premier close-in community is filled with appealing homes on curving, winding streets framed by woods & sheltering trees. And this tranquil oasis is mere minutes from all the amenities of the Town of Vienna, including the W&OD bike/jog trail, great schools and easy access to major commuting routes. Sited on a gorgeous ½ acre lot backing to trees/parkland, this elegant colonial features soaring ceilings, bay windows, gleaming hardwood floors, 2 fireplaces, a stunning living room/sunroom, library with custom built-ins, sunny gourmet kitchen & breakfast room, delightful screened porch, 4 spacious bedrooms with an abundance of closet space, a fully finished walkout lower level & more!

Call (703) 242-3975 for more info!

Search More Homes For Sale in Vienna

Read about Life In Vienna

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204 Cottage Street SW in Vienna – OPEN SUNDAY 2PM – 4PM

Home For Sale in Vienna on Cottage St

Listed at $1,195,000

Enjoy a new design and excellent quality construction from one of Vienna’s oldest and finest builders, in the heart of “Downtown Vienna”. This delightful elevation includes Hardiplank, stone, and a charming porch feature. First floor guest bedroom/den with full bath. Five bedrooms & four full baths total. Upgraded finishes and quality throughout. Madison HS Pyramid.

Directions:From Vienna Metro:  I-66 to Nutley Street; Right on Tapawingo; Left on Cottage. Or from Tysons: Maple Avenue to Left on Center Street S, Right on Locust Street, Left on Cottage St to #204.

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

Read about Life In Vienna

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(We also have other new listings coming soon in Falls Church and Vienna. Call 703-242-3975 for details!)

11 Competing Contracts On One Home In Vienna!

Vienna VA Real Estate Competing Contracts

The “bread & butter” housing market remains as tight as ever. 28 new listings came on the market in the past week; while 17 homes went under contract. The net of this is that inventory is up, but only slightly. And 35% of the homes that went under contract this week, did so in 5 days or less.

Anecdotally, we are seeing the same thing. Our open house attendance is through the roof and competing contracts are happening all over Northern VA. Last weekend in Vienna, a home was listed and held open. 72 people signed in to the open house. (This means there were probably well over 100 in attendance since many folks do not sign in.) By Sunday night, there were 11 competing contracts received and the Seller stopped accepting contracts so they could make a decision. And this is not an isolated incident.

On the other hand, combine the upper price ranges with “testing” a much higher price than the market is at, and you may have a recipe for disaster. While the market is brisk, it’s not as swift in the upper ranges. You’ve heard us say a million times that the longer a home is on the market, the less it will sell for. Well, this week’s statistics are a perfect example of that:

  • The 3 homes listed at $949,000 or higher averaged 382 days on market! While the remaining 14 homes (listed at $849,000 or less) averaged 29 days on the market.
  • The 3 higher priced homes had total price reductions of $100,000 before they went under contract. While the other 14 homes only had a total of $9,000 in price reductions between them! And our guess is that when the sold prices of these homes are released, the difference will be even more stark.

What does this mean for Buyers & Sellers?

It means that BOTH Buyers & Sellers need well experienced Realtors to guide them through the process successfully. Not only should they choose Realtors who are top notch negotiators, but ones who are well schooled in strategies for success (like The Belt Team!) All kinds of issues may arise when there are competing contracts.

For example, Sellers need to be aware that even if they get a contract well above list price, if the contract is contingent upon appraisal, there will likely to be an issue down the line because comps are not yet in place to support rising prices. Sellers will need to evaluate types of financing on each contract, how substantial of a down payment there is, and a myriad of other terms that may ultimately affect the outcome of the transaction.

Sellers in the upper price ranges need to pay special attention to pricing their homes correctly right out of the gate. When you choose a Realtor, choose one who can show you statistics like average days on market and sold-price-to-list-price percentage that are better than average.

Buyer also need someone with creative strategies and who can explain the risks involved when competing for a home. Sometimes buyers get caught up in the frenzy of competition and waive inspections for example. We do not always counsel our Buyers to do this, and there are a lot of factors to take into account before you make a decision.

Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for more strategies for success in today’s market.

Here is this week’s Market Snapshot for Vienna & Oakton:

Northern VA Real Estate Market Snapshot

Last week in Vienna Real Estate (22180,22181, 22182):

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

  • Number of Contracts: 9
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 133 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 121 days
  • Inventory: 114 homes on the market (a record low in the past 3 years)
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 2.3 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 1.65 months

What Is My Vienna Home Worth?

Last week in Oakton Real Estate (22124):

Search Homes For Sale in Oakton

  • Number of Contracts: 8
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 115 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 58 days
  • Inventory: 51 homes on the market (down from 53 last week)
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 2.5 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 2.1 months

What Is My Oakton Home Worth?

“Love It” Or “List It” In Northern Virginia

Have you seen the show on HGTV called “Love It Or List It“?

If you haven’t seen it, the premise each week is that there is a family who is debating whether to renovate their home or whether to move. Sometimes their existing home is really out of date. Sometimes the family has grown & they need more space. So they invite in a designer and a Realtor to discuss their options.

Home Renovation

They discuss their budget, and analyze their needs & wants. The designer makes & executes a design plan to renovate the home. And the Realtor takes the owners out to look at what their budget would allow them to buy. Once the renovation is complete (and there are ALWAYS problems with the renovation on the show), the owners decide whether to stay in their renovated home (“LOVE IT”) or whether to sell & buy a new home (“LIST IT”).

The show itself is of course very dramatic and there are problems after problems. The husband & wife always disagree. The designer always runs into road blocks. And their budget never seems to go as far as they want. And yet, there is always a Cinderella ending where the family is uber happy.

Despite some of the “only on TV exaggerations”, this scenario is one that many of our clients deal with. They wonder whether they should “right size” their home. Should they renovate & stay, or sell and move into a larger home? Should they adapt their home as they age and stay in it? Or should they sell and down size into something with less maintenance?

And The Belt Team can help with that. Not only do we know the market well and can advise you on which changes are saleable, which add value and which changes may negatively impact resale value of your home; we also are in touch with designers, builders, contractors and more who can meet with you to discuss the options.

One of the members of our team recently went through this scenario. We thought you might enjoy a sample before & after picture. She has lived in her home in Vienna since 1986 when it was brand new. After 26 years of family living, it was time to make a change. So – it was time to decide – “love it” or “list it”. She chose to renovate and ended up loving it. A before & after picture of the kitchen is below. Stay tuned for more pictures and an upcoming post with her “Top 10 Tips To Survive A Renovation”!

Kitchen renovated by Dominion Associates Inc in Vienna VA
Kitchen renovated by Dominion Associates Inc

Kitchen Before: Vinyl flooring, laminate countertops, flourescent lighting, maple cabinets, rose wallpaper, cream appliances, only one oven

Kitchen After: Hardwood floors, granite countertops, additional counterspace/breakfast bar, tile backsplash, white cabinets including some glass front, recessed & pendant lighting, stainless steel appliances, two ovens

Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We can help you decide whether to “love it” or “list it”!